In today's data-driven landscape, understanding the true impact of digital ads is essential. And when it comes to attribution, sometimes off-the-shelf analytics aren’t enough—the genuine voice of consumers is what matters most. Brand lift studies bridge this gap by asking questions to the audience directly, providing a unique perspective that data alone can't capture. However, most brands don't have the resources to conduct market research on their own. That's where the platforms come into play. Under certain circumstances, platforms like Meta, Twitter, and YouTube will provide the services needed to conduct brand lift studies.
We’ve run brand lift studies for clients in fields from e-commerce to customer acquisition. In doing so, we've uncovered the value that comes with measuring campaign impact through brand lift studies. Here's what brands and marketers should know:
What is a brand lift study?
A brand lift study is a research method used to measure the impact of advertising campaigns on brand awareness and consumer behavior. It can be conducted by the advertising platform or a third party.
What is the goal of a brand lift study?
The goal of a brand lift study is to determine how effective an advertising campaign is in achieving its objectives, such as increasing brand awareness, improving brand perception, and driving customer actions like website visits, product purchases, or brand mentions.
When should you run a brand lift study?
Run a brand lift study if you want to understand the impact of your advertising on brand awareness. Are people aware of the brand? Do they remember it? Do they want to buy from it?
Brand lift studies can be conducted across various advertising channels, such as TV, radio, print, digital, and social media.
How is a brand lift study conducted?
Typically, a brand lift study is conducted by surveying a group of consumers who have been exposed to your advertising campaign, as well as a control group of consumers who were eligible to see your ads but have not seen them.
The survey asks questions related to the brand, such as brand awareness, brand perception, and purchase intent.
By comparing the responses of the two groups, researchers can determine the impact of the advertising campaign on key brand metrics.
What types of questions can be asked in a brand lift study?
Brand lift studies can offer insights across different points throughout the funnel. When deciding which questions to ask, think about where the audience is in their customer journey, since the standard questions will vary:
|Upper Funnel Questions||Middle Funnel Questions||Lower Funnel Questions|
Standard Ad Recall - “Do you recall seeing an ad for (brand/product) online or on a mobile device in the last 2 days?”
Unaided Ad Recall - “Which of the following (product category) have you seen advertised online or on a mobile device in the last 2 days? Tick all that apply.”
Standard Brand Awareness - “Have you heard of (brand/product/message)?”
Unaided Brand Awareness - “Which of the following (brand/product category) have you heard of? Tick all that apply.”
Campaign Awareness - “Have you heard of (campaign)?”
Top-of-Mind Awareness - “Which of the following (brand/products) comes to mind first when you think of (statement)?”
Message Association - “Which brand do you most associate with (message)?”
Message Recall - “Which of the following (product/category) (uses) the following message in its ads? (Message).”
Message Agreement - “Do you agree or disagree that (statement)?”
Standard Favorability - “What’s your opinion of (brand/product)?”
Abstract Favorability - “How would you describe your overall opinion of (brand)?”
Familiarity - “How familiar are you with (brand/product) name?”
Attribute Rating - “How would you rate (brand/product) in terms of (attribute)?”
Intent - “Will you buy (brand) the next time you shop for (category)?”
Action Intent - “How likely are you to purchase (brand)?”
Recommendation - “Would you recommend (brand/product) to a friend?”
Consideration - “How likely are you to (consider) (brand/product) the next time you want to (shop for) (category)?”
Preference - “Among the following (brands) which do you prefer most?”
What are the platform requirements for brand lift studies?
Advertisers may be eligible for brand studies provided at no additional cost by the platform or platforms on which they’re advertising. The requirements vary across platforms but generally include a minimum campaign spend and minimum reach and are limited by the maximum number of questions that can be asked. Working with an experienced digital agency can help your brand understand where there is flexibility in these requirements.
A platform’s brand lift study can be either self-serve (meaning that the campaign analyst runs the test and reviews results on their own), or managed (meaning the platform partners will help to set up the test and analyze the results.) Other variables in a brand-lift study include the use of custom questions (in which the advertiser customizes the questions asked to survey takers), study levels (looking at the campaign, ad group, or ad level), and multi-cells (comparing brand lift across multiple campaigns/ad groups/ads that can be compared to each other).
Here’s how some of the platforms stack up:
|Minimum Campaign Spend (US)||Self-serve $30k, managed $120k||Twitter Brand Survey $100k, Twitter Brand Survey+ $200k||$10k for 1 question, $20k for 2 questions, $60k for 3 questions|
|Minimum Reach||2M Reach, 8M Impressions||3M Reach||3M Reach|
|Max # of Questions||3-5||3||3|
|Custom Questions Allowed?||Only 1 for managed studies, however (1) requires additional approvals and (2) norms aren’t available to benchmark against||Only 1 for managed studies, however (1) requires additional approvals and (2) norms aren’t available to benchmark against||No. Must select from these Google options: Ad recall (required), awareness, consideration, favorability, purchase intent|
|Study Levels||Account, Campaign Group, or Campaign Level||Account, Campaign Group, or Campaign Level||Account, Campaign Group, or Campaign Level|
|Setup Time Needed||3-5 business days||2 weeks lead time||2 weeks lead time|
|Wrap-Up Turnaround||10 business days||10 business days||10 business days|
What happens after a brand lift study?
If you’re running a managed brand lift study, you’ll likely want to jump on a call with your platform partners to go over their findings. They’ll typically identify areas for improvement in your campaigns based on the brand lift study results.
If you’re running a self-serve brand lift study, review your brand lift for each of your questions and compare them against norms/benchmarks (by vertical, region, or even previous brand lift studies).
Observe how performance fluctuated within different aspects of your campaign:
- Placements: Did you find that Mobile Feed drove stronger lift than Desktop Feed?
- Demographics: Did your ads resonate the most with Men or Women? 18-24 or 25-34 year olds?
- Audiences: Did your retargeting audience see more lift than your interest targeting audience?
- Ads: Was there a specific ad that drove more lift than others?
You can take learnings from all of these aspects to guide decisions when testing new ads, audiences, and placements.
Photo Credit: @sigmund